Rockslide on Little River Road in Smokies, forces detours

Rockslide on Little River Road in Smokies, forces detours

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The slide is about two miles west of Metcalf Bottoms. The slide is about two miles west of Metcalf Bottoms.

TOWNSEND (WATE) - A section of Little River Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is closed Thursday due to a rockslide, forcing drivers to detour out of the park and back into it.

Park officials said the eight mile closure on the western end of Little River Road runs between the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area and the Townsend "Wye."

The slide is about two miles west of Metcalf Bottoms.

Drivers are being diverted out of the park unto U.S. 321 in Townsend. From there, they go north to Lyon Springs Road in Wears Valley and they can re-enter the park on Wear Cove Road to Metcalf Bottoms.

The drivers can continue east on Little River Road to Newfound Gap Road and on to Gatlinburg or Cherokee, North Carolina.

Herb Handly is the executive vice president of the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitor's Bureau. He says it's a good thing it's not in a busy season since businesses in the area are hit hard when something like this happens.

"We have a lot of our restaurants that as people come through, they stop for breakfast or lunch. Once they find out the road is not open and find out they can't drive in to the national park, then they don't drive at all," Handly says.

Keith Etter thought he was headed to Cades Cove Thursday, but after seeing the Little River Road closure and the Cades Cove Loop Road closure, he said he wasn't sure where he would go.

"I'm going to have to use a detour I have no clue about so it's going to throw me off track a little bit," Etter said.

J.P. Gradone was headed to a trail in the mountains with his family. He said they're used to going with the flow and were determined to hit a trail at some point Thursday.

"Plan B right now is to go to go to Rock Mountain and then we're going to come back here and find another trail, but we will trail today," Gradone said.

Due to weight limits on the bridges, no large motor homes or buses can use the alternate route. The larger vehicles must continue on U.S. 321 into Pigeon Forge.

After a review by a geotechnical engineering firm, park managers believe it's safe to start clearing the rockslide. Crews will start with the large boulders at the bottom of the slope.

However, the park's equipment isn't able to handle the size of the boulders so managers will select a contractor as soon as possible.

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